“All too often, religious people view their acts of piety or moral efforts as a means of gaining acceptance with God. Check yourself now. Even if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, don’t you sometimes feel like God is more pleased with you on days when you’ve been faithful in daily devotions than those rushed days when you neglected time in the Word and prayer? Do you tend to view your relationship with God as a long list of “do’s and don’ts”? Is your obedience to God motivated by love and characterized by joy—or guilt and fear? Is it easy for you to admit your failures and take ownership of your sins? Or does the possibility of being exposed feel threatening to your sense of well-being?
Like Luther, our relationship with God can easily become based on our own performance, rather than the performance of Christ. Even good spiritual disciplines, such as Bible-reading, prayer, and worship, become in our minds, like rungs on the ladder to heaven. We may not express it this way. In fact, we might even deny it. But functionally, and practically, we live as if approval from God depended upon our obedience, instead of Christ’s obedience for us.”
–Christ Formed in You by Brian Hedges